I should’ve noticed the odd way the government officers carried themselves with their nervous glances and sweating palms. I should’ve paid closer attention to the way they grouped us together with fake similes of reassurance. Their teeth were starkly too white, their eyes too shifty to be up to any good. Why didn’t I stop to ask them what was going on? Why didn’t I ask them where they were taking us?
My mother drilled the importance of obeying the law and trusting the government strictly into me. Any time I doubted the government’s actions she would give me the same non-convincing line, officially ending our argument.
“No matter what the government decides. They always have their best interests in mind for us.” She was too trustful. Too numb to the truth to protect her own child.
I distinctly remember when my favorite teacher taught us the importance of doubt. Nothing can remain untainted for long, everything is easily corruptible. It would be in our best interests to stay alert even when everything seemed perfectly fine.
While the other kids in my class either laughed or brushed her advice off as a joke, I took her words into serious consideration.
As the years went on I started really noticing the strange way kids around me acted. They were so confident the government would never betray their loyalty and trust that they never truly considered the alternative. I couldn’t eat with my friends anymore, not that they wanted to eat with a weirdo like me. I became an outsider once I criticized even the smallest part of our government.
My teacher would be disappointed. She taught me to think for myself and what have I done? I’ve followed a stranger’s instructions mindlessly. I should’ve trusted my instincts and gotten myself out of here when I had the chance.
The acidic burn down my throat from the smallest sip out of that clear plastic cup, causes a pulsing in the pit of my stomach. The room starts spinning and I clutch the white wall for support, breathing heavily. I can barely keep my eyes open. My heartbeat hammers against my chest in painful thuds, my spine trickling with burning fire my nerves dutifully deliver to the rest of my body. The only thing I cam think about is the excruciating pain that sears my flesh and bones.
“W-what hav-ve y-you don-ne to us-s?” I stutter through clattering teeth. I want to scream a slur of profanities, but all I can do is clench my fists. Sweat pools along my body and I slam onto the ground. I hardly feel the impact over the burning that corrupts my mind.
The government officials left the room once they delivered us to this sterile death cell. That should’ve been my lightbulb moment.
I hear others around me screaming in agony. the clutch their heads, some slamming them on the ground hopeful for relief. “Make it stop!” They beg, tears streaming down their faces.
I move my hand to my cheek. I hadn’t realized I was crying. My body shutters, the shaking getting worse. I start screaming from the pain. My vision blurs and I tuck myself into a ball wishing for death. The room becomes quiet. I wonder if it’s my hearing going or if the pain was too much for the others to bare?
What an odd sound to hear after all the screaming. It’s like the sound was projected to give us a second of false peace. “Hello citizens. We thank you for your service here today. It has taken a great deal of subordination for you to come this far. Your trust in our government is greatly appreciated. Without you ou society would parish. Please do not struggle as the soldiers enter your room and remain calm.” His soft voice finishes and the intercom repeats those same three infuriating sounds.
“Conquest.” A voice hisses in my head, like the sound of slithering snakes, pressing against my temples. “How ironic. He sounds so prideful.”
I must be dying. I’m hearing voices. What else could it possibly mean?
“Does it matter? I am apart of you. Until your dying breath, I always will be. You’ve lost the right to your body. I hope you will not fight and accept this with ease.” The voice says humorlessly.
What do you mean?
I try lifting my arm, concentrating to perform this one simple act.
“Fool. I’m the voice you have created to comfort yourself. You have become a feeble pawn. A new type of soldier that will be hard to destroy as you kill thousands of innocents. I exist because without me you would go insane. The mind is an important part of the human machine. I will do my best to protect it.”
I can’t move my limbs no matter how hard I try. I want to hyperventilate, but my body doesn’t respond.
The soldiers storm into the room. I open my eyes watching a soldier with a sharp pen, punctures the man laying in front of me’s neck. The pen flashes bright blue before he moves on to the next person.
I feel the cold tip of the pen, jab into the top of my neck. A cool tingle extinguishes the fire in my veins, replacing it with tightness.
All of us who drank the liquid stand in unison. We march, following each other in a perfect line.
by drinking that foul tasting poison we were irreversibly changed, that much was clear. I’ve become a monster and a prisoner of my own subconscious.
I could always imagine myself being a hero, helping people to the best of my abilities, but with that one rueful sip, that life was no longer possible.
Once again I had a horrifying realization. This was only the beginning of a tragically long story where I was the villian everyone hated, even myself.